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An Idea...permies help farmers drought-proof their land  RSS feed

 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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I am sorry about the title, it is lame, but I had no idea what else to call this. And if this is in the wrong spot...again, I am sorry.

So I started kicking around this idea yesterday and would like to run it by the Permies people. There are many mono-crop farmers and ranchers that are losing out big time because of their agricultural practices. Ranchers in Texas are having a hard time feeding and watering their herds with this drought, areas of the Midwest are starting to become dust bowl like due to stripping the land...etc. You have all seen this, you know what I mean.

I am sure that this land has been in possession of some of these people for generations and are now faced with losing it by not being able to pay the taxes on it, etc. This must be devastating for them.

My idea is this: What if wanna-be permies and homesteaders (people like me who are stuck in the city for now) could work with these farmers and ranchers to help them keep their land?

*Say a ranch has 2,000 acres. Could they rent out 10-20 5 acre plots (5 year lease) for people to build permaculture gardens? Would low rent (as it takes ALOT of work to start something like that) on 10-20 parcels be enough to cover the taxes thus letting them keep the ranch? Another side benefit for them would be a section of improved land on their property and access to fresh produce.

**For the permaculturist wanna-be this would be a great oppourtunity to design from the ground up and test their ideas.


So...now that my idea is out there, I would like to hear from you. Do you think this is something that is feasible? Do you know farmers or ranchers on the brink of losing their property that this could just possibly save it for them? And if you DO like this idea, how would you suggest going about talking to the public about it?
 
dave brenneman
Posts: 38
Location: london, england
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http://www.landshare.net/ is a website for the UK, Canada and Australia that aims to hook up people who have land with people who want to grow things. I think something along those lines would be great for the US, except not everyone is computer-savvy. Even a moderate learning curve to signing up and finding people for their farm could put off landowners from spending time that way, instead of doing other work. Additionally, if the farmer doesn't have time or inclination to surf the web, how are they going to find out about the existence of the website?

If it were me: I'd come up with a short written statement on what you'd like to accomplish, so you can hand people the paper and have them take a look when they have time. Additionally, you could give copies to other people to hand out, so you wouldn't have to always do your pitch in person. Get a couple people who are committed to the project and who will definitely see it through a year or two as growers, and then start canvassing for land in your area. Work on getting the first plot going as a "success story" and you're more likely to get others involved, or sway people who were considering it but not sure.

I'd suggest contacting something like a 4-H club in your desired area, they might be able to put you in touch with someone. Or you could go to a farmers' market, feed and seed, maybe tractor supply - and see if they'll let you hang up a notice.
 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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You are a genius! I did a search for "land share in the USA" and found this: http://www.sharedearth.com/

I agree that printing something out would be ideal. I think this would be a great idea for anyone interested...not just me.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think it's great. The main difficulty might be housing. And trust.
 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:I think it's great. The main difficulty might be housing. And trust.


I agree. There are alot of problems. But, it is good to start looking at this sort of thing now.

The more I have been looking into urban gardening/homesteading it is almost impossible. The community is there in Texas...tons of people want to make use of the space and do the work...get rid of lawns and grow food, but there are too many suits making laws that restrict those actions (see Georgetown...http://urbanfarming.georgetown.org/, notice the continual use of the word: regulations). My husband and I did a drive in a few different parts of Austin and there are TONS of abandoned homes and commercial buildings. It would be nice for those to be torn down and allow permaculture, strawbale building, etc. BUT, there is the whole red tape thing. There ARE some neighborhoods set up for serious urban homesteading, but most of those people already own their homes.

It is a vicious cycle getting trapped into the city. That is why I think it is important to start looking at options...for everyone out there feeling trapped. The land share idea that Dave posted is awesome. It actually reminds me of stories that my great-Grandparents would tell me about what life was like in "the good old days." People helping people, a real sense of belonging, family outside of family.



 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree, we need to find ways to move toward self-sufficiency and mutual interdependency and not expect help or support from hierarchical institutions.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Another challenge will be how the people renting the land on the ranch will pay their rent. Unless they are independent financially, which few people are...I think that's one of the big challenges of moving people from the city to the country - how to make a living in the country.
 
Marcella Rose
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Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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I think I solved the housing issue (too cute!): http://www.tumbleweedhouses.com/
 
Tyler Ludens
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Wow, those are expensive!
 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:Wow, those are expensive!


They are, but a genius type person could figure out how to build one of those...at not so much of a cost. I can cook, sew and do other wonderful things, but when it comes to building plans like that...I am not so brilliant.
 
Brenda Groth
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Location: North Central Michigan
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with the cost of farmland going up 25 % and the cost of homes going down by as much as 50 %..early on it might be a good investment for people to attempt to buy just enough property with a home on it to use for permaculture, as in USA in those areas you mentioned, not only is the cost going up, but the land is soaked with fertilizers and pesticides and may be difficult to recover.

It is a great idea though and I hope you can get it going if that is your dream
 
Marcella Rose
Posts: 95
Location: Central Texas, it is dry here.
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I found this study that was done in a county near where we live. It is rather scary...how much land one person needs to grow all their food for one year and how much land is available in the county per person. Here is the link:

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fundoctrination.info%2Findex.php%3Fudn%3Dunsorted%252FBackyard%2520Food%2520Production%252FDOCUMENTS%252F%26download%3DTravis_County_Agricultura_Land.pdf&ei=eZ_ETuCaNbKlsQK0mqTxCg&usg=AFQjCNHr4vi9iHatA-5Y5avhVRIkPcc2cQ&sig2=6sT7xX2sgfysTJ76PHsthQ

I would be interested in knowing if studies have been done on the same situation in other peoples parts of the world.

How do you get people to grasp this information? I think the land share is ideal, but as Americans, we have established that there are too many complications for it to take root overnight. And yes...buying up land would also be ideal, but this is just not feasible for some people...(if you would like to PM me for reasons why, there are plenty, we just do not need to get into it on this thread).

Any more thoughts?
 
              
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marcella,

when in a permies forum, one might think that permies are everywhere, but i think this is perception bias. I suspect there are very few yous out there. and of the few of yous, there are even fewer that would be willing to relocated to the middle of nowhere with no road, and no utilities even if the rent were free.

toan
 
Fred Morgan
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But I suspect the numbers are going to be growing...
 
Dennis Mitchell
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Bring back old fashioned sharecropping.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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I don't agree sharecropping is a good idea. It is an exploitative arrangement, not permacultural at all, in my opinion.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
Posts: 985
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
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I think that the biggest problem with the idea is that if someone invests years of their life, labor, and funds into a piece of land, they need at least to have a life-time lease on it, not just a rent agreement. Ideally, they'd own the land and be able to pass it on to their grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren, or at least to someone like-minded. It's difficult to invest so much of yourself into something that may at any time be taken away from you and handed over to someone else who might just raze everything you've built and planted.

The general concept, though, of obtaining small parcels of land amongst the larger ones, and (hopefully) making something work that the local people would otherwise have no concept of, is a good one.

Kathleen
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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H Ludi Tyler wrote:I don't agree sharecropping is a good idea. It is an exploitative arrangement, not permacultural at all, in my opinion.



Depends on the owner. For example, I have people who sharecrop with me, and all I get out of it enough to protect the land and cover basic costs associated with having someone using part of the property (like fences). It is customary as well for them to share some fruits, etc with us, when they have extra, but we do the same too.

I do it with people who might well be exploited, if they didn't have this opportunity.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I think the lifetime lease is a better idea than sharecropping. The land would not need to be broken up in this case, it would be retained as a large parcel, but the people with the lease would have a life-time interest in their specific portion. Provision for extending the lease to offspring might be worked out. Land trusts or conservation easements might help protect the use of the land over time.

http://www.texaslandtrustcouncil.org/what-is-a-land-trust

http://www.landtrustalliance.org/

 
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